August 10, 2014

Ugly Face of RSS Exposed

G N Nagaraj

FOR more than 10 days a serious battle is being waged against the ugly face of communal elements in the state of Karnataka. It started on social networking site Facebook and has now spilled over to the real world in the form of complaint, arrest, and street protests in more than 12 districts of the state. It started with a Facebook post by Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samithi (BGVS) Karnataka state secretary Prabha, decrying the practice of scientists, engineers and various state authorities inviting purohits and conducting pujas, homa and havans when satellites are launched or a new flyover is thrown open to public, while it is the ordinary workers and many scientists who have toiled and also laid down their lives for the purpose. She wrote that it is a demonstration of stranglehold of purohitshahi on the society. A person by name V. R. Bhat commented in response to this post that women like her (Prabha), who are inspired by reading ‘Edege Bidda Akshara ' (a work by Sahitya Academy Award winning Dalit writer Devanur Mahadeva), should be held by their hair and raped. It was found out that Bhat is a follower of RSS. He and his family were instrumental in opening of an RSS shaka in his village. He also had many photos of national and state RSS chiefs on his Facebook page. This brought out the ugly face of RSS into open. Many intellectuals, literary persons on Facebook felt aghast by these comments. We all decided that the ‘Bharatiya samskriti’, RSS followers talk of day in and day out, should be exposed. It was shared in more than 50 Facebook pages very quickly and soon there was a raging debate on the social media platform, which was soon picked up by TV news channels and it took the form of panel discussions and RSS was severely criticised. As the pressure mounted, RSS came out with the age old disclaimer they use whenever any RSS person is caught on the wrong foot that Bhat is not an RSS office-bearer. RSS disagrees with whatever he had expressed. Immediately we raised many questions about the RSS statement on Facebook and cornered them. Along with the debate in which a number of women writers and Dalit writers and activists participated, the call for registering a complaint came up. As soon as it was raised in discussions on Facebook, Bhat saw what was coming and posted a request for forgiving him if she was hurt by his comments and that he would withdraw his comments. But the Kannada Facebook community exploded in anger against this farce and demanded that a complaint be registered against him without delay. When Prabha went to police station many AIDWA workers, Dalit activists and writers accompanied her. Bhat immediately went into hiding to evade arrest. Facebook battle spilled over to streets and spontaneous protests were held on the very next day morning in several places. BGVS held protests in several districts independently. JMS, SFI, DYFI and Dalit organisations also held protests. Some of them also met the Karnataka Chief Minister and pressed for action against Bhat. They also demanded that he be booked under the Goonda Act according to the recent amendment in state assembly. Police had to act under the pressure, and Bhat was arrested. RSS followers on Facebook were forced to be on the defensive making some lame excuses or distancing themselves. But after this episode a number of similar comments by right wing activists came to light. Recently one of the Hindutva followers has made a complaint against Prabha seeking action similar to V.R. Bhat against her also as she has abused Hindu religion. Recently the registrar of a university was called a prostitute over her lecture in a seminar where she referred to some episodes of Ramayana and Mahabharatha. A complaint has been lodged against the accused person, named Shankar Goud, and action is being awaited. Democratic organisations of women, scientists and Dalits have recently met and decided to take up campaign among masses against this this attack on scientific attitude, women and Dalits by communal forces all over the state.